Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Letter to Alden on His 1st Birthday

The burrito mom hath birthed
Dear Alden -

Today is your first birthday. It occurred to me that once you get a bit older, you might not recall everything that’s happened these last 12 months. So I thought I’d write this letter and give you a brief reminder of what you’ve been up to in your first year of life. 

You were born, as you have no doubt heard by now, in Ottawa, Canada. There was some debate about whether we should fly back to the States to ensure you weren’t precluded from an eventual presidential run, but after consulting with our lawyer (Ted Cruz) we went ahead with the Canadian birthing option (it was free). Now you apparently have dual citizenship. The main benefit of that is if America’s economy ever tanks completely, we can use you as our anchor baby. The night you were born the nurses wrapped you up like a baby burrito. For some reason I was very paranoid about the deep sleep you quickly fell into. So throughout the night, instead of sleeping myself, I checked on you about every 15 minutes. Turns out, babies just like to sleep. 

You seemed to enjoy living in Canada, despite it being Canada. This winter, for example, the temperature regularly dipped as low as negative 20. Yet you still seemed to always enjoy cruising around the neighborhood in your stroller. In fact, the only time I can recall you complaining about the weather was once when your mom and I (as well as our friend Eric) were determined to trek some mountain trail — despite the fact that it was pretty much blizzarding. That time we had you strapped into the Baby Bjorn. After about 20 minutes of getting blasted in the face with snow, you started crying. To this day I’ll never forgive you for that. Kidding! You were probably just hungry anyway. 

You’ve probably also heard by now that we eventually escaped Canada for Korea, where you blended right in. Except instead of having black hair with dark, squinty eyes and a taste for kimchi, you have flowing golden locks with bright blue eyes and a strong aversion to kimchi. You’re definitely the only one in this city of 12 million who fits that profile. Which is probably why the locals treat you like a god. Wherever we go, people say "aleumdaun!” Which we’re told means “beautiful,” but could just as well mean “devil child.” It’s a tough language to understand. 

Crushing Canadians
Speaking of Koreans, the other day we were in Lotte World (the Bloomingdales of Korea) and one of the gentlemen working the appliance section decided he’d like to hold you. But not only did he hold you; he rubbed his nose against yours, cooed ceaselessly, and gave you no fewer than 100 kisses. I attempted several interventions, but he wasn’t having it. 

Just two days ago, your mom and I were taking you out to celebrate your birthday (a couple of days early). As we happened upon an intersection, a group of 5 or 6 young girls immediately began freaking out with excitement upon seeing you. Perched on my shoulder, you began clapping at them. They all clapped in response. You then let out your classic Alden yell; they yelled just the same. Then you did a peek-a-boo, and they did peek-a-boos back. This call-and-response game actually went on for a few minutes. You reminded me of a rock star who can command his fans to do just about anything. 
Doin' the bull dance

Which is actually great because you really love attention. Once in awhile, we’re walking and you’re smiling at everyone who looks your way. If you fixate on someone but they ignore you, you begin hollering at them. Increasingly louder. Until inevitably they look at you, at which point you smile at them and their once cold hearts melt instantly. It’s a great move. 
Besides attention and adoration, here are some of your favorite things:

  • The bath. You could spend hours in the tub. Even as you sometimes lose your balance, go under and momentarily appear traumatized, you’re usually happy again within a few seconds. You also like throwing anything within arm’s range into the tub with you. And to your credit, you’ve only pooped in the tub twice. 
  • Animals. You like them all. Sadly, they mostly hate you. Probably because you scream at them very rudely. And you eat their food. Simone is nicer to you than any other kid she’s encountered, but even she can only take so much fur-tugging. Dolley has hated you from the get-go, likely because she knows we like you better than her. Hugo is a cat none of us like so it doesn’t really matter what he thinks. Feel free to continue tormenting him.
  • Your Parents. You always smile your gigantic smile whenever you see us. It’s pretty much the best.
  • With your friend Simone
    on Halloween
  • The Bottle. You’re probably getting to be that age where we should segue away from the bottle into a more sophisticated chalice, but you really can’t be without it. The other night I happened to go into your room while you were sleeping. You literally had the bottle in your mouth as you slept; as I was looked on, you sucked the (empty) bottle several times somewhat frantically, then returned to your deep slumber. It was funny. (You probably had to be there.)  
Things you dislike: 
  • The Car. This is an issue you’ve wavered on. At times you tolerate long trips in the car seat; other times, you’ll go through a phase where even two seconds in the car seat is akin to ripping your toenails out, one by one. You’re currently in the latter phase. We're hopeful this doesn’t last too much longer.
  • I literally can’t think of anything else you outwardly dislike. Besides kimchi. 
On your birthday I also want to say thanks. Previously I thought babies were smelly little beasts that permanently end any hope of youthful frivolity. Now I know that’s only partially true. And while I know everyone thinks their kid is the best, I actually do think you’re literally the best baby ever. You’re cute, generally well behaved, and have a budding sense of mirth your mom and I both find hilarious. But don’t let any of this go to your head; you still have plenty of time to let us down. 

Happy birthday, Alden Forbes Elliott 

En route to Korea